Saturday, May 23, 2009

A weekend voyage through violets

It was barely 16 months ago when I listed violet as one of the notes I disliked. I met Brian in a chat room and now I have at least a dozen violet fragrances. I started with L’Heure Bleue, and while I grew to tolerate it, it never became a love of mine. This should give you a glimpse of the type of violet fragrances I like, since I don’t like L’Heure Bleue, or anything candy sweet, powdery and old school.

Last year I wrote that the Indies saved violet for me, and this is still very much the case. It’s the dirty, dark, edgy and also fresh, woody and green violet perfumes that draw me in. It doesn't seem to have received the most positive feedback, but Brian and I both loved the brutally assertive violet/tar of Creed Love in Black. Comme des Garcons + Stephen Jones is another fun violet fragrance, mixing the usually innocent violet note with the scent of meteorites. Since I’ve been doing so much violet research, I’ve noticed that I’m now enjoying the violet soliflore variety much more. Penhaligon’s Violetta, in particular, is a beautifully refreshing violet scent. Without further adieux, here are some brief reviews of six violet fragrances I’ve been wearing and evaluating lately.

(alphabetical order)

Borsari Violetta di Parma. Oh, the box and bottle are so pretty and this is violet perfection for so many, but for me, this is violets in melted plastic.

Caron Violette Preceiuse. Caron’s violet is surprisingly good. This is a dark, sweet, spicy violet. It has excellent longevity and brings to mind a chaise lounge made of deep purple crushed velvet. It’s not girly but elegant and full of depth and intrigue.

Histoires de Parfum Blanc Violette. I had such high hopes for Blanc Violette, because I’ve found many excellent fragrances from Histoires. Perhaps I’m anosmic to several musks because I couldn’t smell anything from Annick Goutal Musc Nomade or Hermes Gentiane Blanche – these were like water on my skin. Blanc Violette is a brief moment of a pale powdery violet that vanishes into thin air on me.

L’Artisan Verte Violette. L’Artisan’s violet is what I had hoped Borsari’s would be. Verte Violette is not green so the name is misleading. L’Artisan’s VV is somehow “chewy” and seems to have a physical texture as if I’ve been enveloped in a cloud of swirling violets. I believe the aspect I enjoy so much is heliotrope, which gives L’Artisan VV a delicious slightly sweet, yet creamy quality. Verte Violette, like most L’Artisan fragrances, is fleeting so that’s a major disappointment. I apply about 15 sprays and can usually smell it until lunch.

Penhaligon’s Violetta. I don’t have any other loves from Penhaligon but their Violetta is great. It’s an assertively fresh, green and woody take on violet that leans toward the masculine. This isn’t one of those old school candy-sweet-powder violets but instead an almost bracing violet. I love this stuff. This is the bottle I dropped on the floor that smashed to bits. I bought another one straight away. That’s sayin’ something.

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette. Somehow an alphabetical list still managed to save the best for last. SSS Voile de Violette makes me swoon. This isn’t even my usual favorite kind of violet, it’s not dark or edgy but it’s so luscious, ripe and beautiful I can’t help myself. Voile de Violette is fruity, like plum jam blended with larger than life violets. Voile de Violette makes me feel simply joyous when I wear it. Voile de Violette has base notes of cedar, musk and vetiver which I’m guessing manage to perfectly anchor the fragrance and give it depth and interest. It’s sweet but just the right amount, not candy sweet and the longevity is excellent.

Looks like the Indies are still saving violet fragrances for me. My favorites remain Liz Zorn’s Domino Viole’, Ava Luxe Midnight Violet, Neil Morris Spectral Violet and now I can add Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette to the list. Not indie but excellent are Penhaligon’s, Caron and L’Artisan.

Photo artist: Ann Garrett


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photo! I love the heliotrope in L'Artisan's VV as well. Too bad it doesn't last very long on you. It's one of the few L'Artisan's that has impressive staying power on me. That silly chemistry thing, huh?


lady jicky said...

I am not a Violet girl but -- the violet by Goutal is lovely!

Tammy said...

Adore the L'Artisan violette, too! The AG eventually goes a tad Playdoh on me, but it's pretty up til then. Didn't even know Caron had one, must investigate...thanks for the head's-up!

Abigail said...

Sheesh, I should have included AG La Violette in my post - I have that one, too, and really like it. The AG violet leans toward L'Artisan Verte Violette in style, but has better longevity and it's more straight forward and less fluffy.

Tammy, if you can, do your best to find the Caron violet from *before* their most recent reformulation. It's the one that's in the same box and bottle as all the other Caron's (not the purple box and square-ish bottle).

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Hi! nice round-up of violet scents. Have you ever tried Penhaligon's Violetta? I'm curious about that one, myself, even though I'm not a big violet fan.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Der, I'm not so swift today. You DID talk about Violetta! Sorry!

Abigail said...

Aimee L'Ondee...(wags finger) I nearly had to accuse you of not reading the post! Hah, hah. Penhaligon's Violetta is great. I just sent some to Brian and he said he loves it.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I was hoping that you might have a few words about LesNez's The Unicorn Spell, which is a violet scent, and compare it to the others. It's the most recent violet scent I have come across, and so am very curious as to what you think!


Anonymous said...

Penhaligon's Violetta is pure "old lady" IMO

Anonymous said...

well, you know what they say about opinions.

I say it,anyway.

I smelled Unicorn Spell just the other day, sprayed it on a piece of paper and enjoyed it all afternoon. It smells wonderful. Bracing and strangely resinous somehow, though cooler than it is warm. I wonder how long it lasts. On paper it was great. On skin...?

Violetta, for me, is wonderful. Fresh and androgynous, a curious mix of leafy green, woody, and powdered sweet. Where Penhaligon's Bluebell swings perilously close to overdone in varying ways (too sweet, too sickly floral, too etc), Violetta strikes a nice balance. And despite what I'd heard,it lasts...

Tammy said...

Through a very generous swapper, I have recently discovered the Histoires de Parfum line, and Blanc Violette was one she included...I REALLY like it. I normally rum from musk, but this musk is pretty, and is probably what gave it great longetivity on my skin. Musk will stay at least a full 24 hours on me, often longer.

Still trying to fin the older Caron!